Ship Bottom Resident Wants County to Take Another Look at Blinking Traffic Light Decision

Oct 31, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Lorianne Lowry is taking action, putting together a file for Ocean County officials who determined there was no feasible reason to keep the 28th Street traffic signal working during the offseason. Earlier this month the light was set to blinking, as are all other traffic signals on the barrier island except the state-controlled lights at Eighth and Ninth streets.

“It’s horrible,” Lowry, who lives on East 28th Street, told borough officials at the council meeting last week. “You can’t get make a left turn at 8:30 in the morning or 5 o’clock at night.”

Without a cycling traffic signal, the cars that park along the north side of the Boulevard or on East 28th Street near the intersection make it almost impossible to see if there is traffic coming, she said, noting a pickup truck traveling way too fast forced her up on the curb near Farias Surf and Sport.

“I can’t see around them, and I drive an SUV,” she said, adding it’s also difficult to see people in the crosswalk. “I almost hit someone because you have to pull out so far just to see.”

And forget about trying to get out during a flood event, Lowry said. Motorists are forced to idle in their car while waiting for a break in traffic just to pull out onto the Boulevard. She said she didn’t venture out one day because the water was too deep and she was worried about stalling her vehicle.

The area in question is one of the most flood-prone sections of the Island – so much so that the county raised the crown of the Boulevard from 24th Street in Ship Bottom to 33rd Street in neighboring Long Beach Township. Depending on the area of the roadway, the crown was raised between 6 and 8 inches in an effort to alleviate flooding in the center turn lane, allowing one lane of water-free, or almost water-free, driving during a tidal or storm flood.

Raising the crown of the roadway was the first step in addressing the overarching flood issue on the Boulevard in the area of West 28th Street, which impacts every motorist traveling south on the Island. In Long Beach Township and Beach Haven, motorists are often redirected to the higher-elevated ocean roads when the Boulevard is impassable due to flood waters in those communities. However, a contiguous, alternate ocean road route doesn’t exist in Ship Bottom; all the traffic converges at the worst area for flooding in the borough.

Still, Lowry is hopeful a suggestion she received while discussing the issue with those in the area gets some support. The recommendation is to turn the traffic signal to blink green and red, like a warning sign.

“I think it’s a fabulous idea,” she said, noting a majority of the homes on East 28th Street are year-round residences. “It’s not a vacant street.”

Walt Arosemonwicz, also a borough resident, doesn’t agree. In fact, when he brought the issue up during the second public comment portion of the council meeting, it was to congratulate the council on its decision.

“The county engineering department made the decision,” said Councilman Tom Tallon, who was not in favor of setting the light to blinking.

That didn’t deter Arosemonwicz from saying the decision was wonderful and everyone he’s spoken to was happy to learn of the traffic signal blinking. When asked, he said of the 20 people he spoke with, fewer than a handful called Ship Bottom home.

“People down that end,” Councilman David Hartmann said in reference to residents in Long Beach Township and Beach Haven, “are happy, but not so much in Ship Bottom. There isn’t a break in traffic for them to pull out.”

Among those unhappy in Ship Bottom is Councilman Ed English, who voted to send a letter of no confidence in the county study to officials last month, along with Tallon and Hartmann. English was the first to note how eliminating the signal would cause those looking to cross the Boulevard, a five-lane county roadway, to wait.

“I’ve never seen anyone waiting,” Arosemonwicz said, noting the traffic signals near the Causeway aren’t in sync.

“Maybe we should turn off those lights, too,” English said.

In 1993, the Ship Bottom Civic Association asked the county to leave the traffic light on full cycle so people could cross, according to Linda Feaster, who lives on 26th Street.

“I like when it’s on,” she said. “It’s easier to get out.”

Mayor William Huelsenbeck, who cast the deciding vote against sending a letter of no confidence to the county, said a study was conducted, and to go against the findings of that study would be detrimental for the borough.

“For years, that light was off,” he said. “Now, we can’t live without it being on.”

— Gina G. Scala

ggscala@thesandpaper.net

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